Welcome to the first in the series of Confessions of a Virtual Event Planner. Whether a means of just self-soothing, venting or online therapy, I thought I would share my personal experiences of being in this big new world we find ourselves in, via a regular blog.
So this new role of a Virtual Event Planner, has been thrust upon thousands in our industry at a moment’s notice and if you are like me, you are currently experiencing the sense of what is called ‘imposter syndrome’. Having been in the industry for 22 years, delivering live events, I feel I have been flung back to my first days as a Delegate Co-ordinator at my very first agency job. Why? Because taking an event online is NOT the same as a live event and for the average, mainstream event manager this is new territory and new skills, you are going back to school!
Gone are the days where I would spend time designing the perfect in person, attendee experience; from what country to host the event in, to what venue suits the agenda, what weather is the client dreaming of, or what travel schedules and on-the-ground logistics are needed. I have even started to miss the dreaded dietary requirements for that regular 2,000 attendee event we used to run. Now my days are filled with discussing the best options for vision mixing, pre-recording schedules for simulive, logistics of global speakers and their incompetent WIFI at home to finding the sweet spot for a start time online, with 22 countries attending from different time zones.
I’ve started to speak a different language in the office and to my clients, using phrases and having conversations I have never had to have before, like discussing bitrates of a video file or the design of lower thirds and RTMP feeds and as comfortable as I get day on day in this new learning environment, I continuously feel like an imposter who is blagging their way through this change. I get off calls with new prospect clients or existing clients and they are buzzing at the prospect of their new upcoming virtual event that I just sold them, while I sit back in my chair with a deep sense of anxiety, based on me actually not having the self-belief in delivering what I just sold.
So what is imposter syndrome? It is real and maybe you have it to? It is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a "fraud". That is 100% me right now and I know I am not alone.
So how does one get passed imposter syndrome? I am not going to claim to know the answer, but I can share what I am personally doing.
Admitting and Owning It. I am open with myself that this is how I feel, that I understand why and what has changed in my life to make me feel this way. I own it, because denying it or getting angry at the feeling is worse. I haven’t suddenly gone from accomplished and celebrated for my work to failure. I just have new challenges to face and have to believe, like everything in my career, I will overcome and overachieve…eventually.
Understanding the strengths & weaknesses I have right now. I never thought I would be doing a SWOT analysis on myself but needs must. Not only is it a way to reaffirm the skills and talent I have that are transferrable to this new role but gives me clear indication of where I now have gaps and opportunities to better myself and get out of this mindset.
Knowing what the gaps. Whether in my knowledge or where I fear failure the most and identifying what I clearly need to support me, I have actively seek that support. Whether it is from my colleagues, my supply chain, professional bodies for training, attending my 62nd live platform demo and reading every industry guide and hiring the skills set to join our team. I am pro-actively filling these gaps and fears. I have been able to develop a clear plan to enable my success and invest in the support I clearly need.
Last, but not least, is to talk to others. Granted this is a one-way conversation and anonymous, so I am cheating, but it feels good to say it out loud and to have open conversations. I think we would all be surprised how crowded the room is when we all put our hands up.